With particular reference to the violence in Lear explore how Bond conveys his pessimistic view of society to the audience… Essay

Bond has a range of strong arguments about the need for violence in today’s society. He feels that violence shapes and obsesses our society and this is mirrored in his perception of Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Act One Scene One, which opens and provides the initial feel of the book, begins with the dark and dismal subject of death. The stark reaction of the soldier when he realises the worker is dead is blunt and detached from the situation. He simply states “Move ‘im then!” showing Bond’s perception towards the apparently cold and callous working class. A pessimistic view if ever I saw one!

The next dramatic contrast comes with the arrival of two of Lear’s daughters – Fontanelle and Bodice. A soldier stands before a firing squad and Fontanelle complains of having wet feet; clearly unmoved by the situation and more concerned with such a tiny problem, in contrast, as her soggy feet.

This clear contrast helps to show Bond’s view on how the upper class at the time lived in a wholly different world to that of the working class ; they perceived violence within the working class as commonplace.

Lear then speaks of ‘his’ wall, saying “my wall will make you free.” This phrase is perhaps contradictory, as how can enclosing someone, physically make them free? Perhaps this shows Bond’s view on how society often provokes violence, through being over protective; and as a result the people suffer.

For example, if you give a man a knife to protect himself from another, then the other will get a gun. In this way the level of violence increases(as if through good will).

The next reference to violence that stands out comes from Lear.

He explains, “I killed the fathers, therefore the sons must hate me”. One interpretation of this is that Bond is showing his view through Lear of how society now presumes that people are unwilling to forgive. Another is that through making this statement, Bond is merely pointing out that society is often unwilling to forgive and forget.

Fontanelle then says, in what I imagine to be a patronising tone of voice, “I know you’ll get on with my husband; he’s very understanding. He knows how to deal with old people.”

Through using this phrase (language), it makes it seem as if Fontanelle is looking down on her Father in a very condescending manner. This need for power runs throughout the play and is indeed what drives both of these daughters.

This also conveys another one of Bond’s pessimistic views toward the actions of society. It shows how elderly people are devalued -and perhaps deservedly so – as they serve no purpose in the current society (Bond’s view?)

The two daughters then disagree with their father’s order to kill the worker and explain to him how they have defied him and chosen to marry North and Cornwall. This could be perceived as Bond’s view speaking of an inconsiderate, backstabbing society or even his pessimistic view towards the minds of women.

Then Lear makes a speech, speaking of how the people have to judge between him and his daughters. The speech is dramatic and so holds the readers attention. The one overriding point that I feel Bond is trying to convey is his view that ultimately power breaks the bonds within a family, etc. This could also be referring to society where the desire for power leaves some countries broken and weak, and even leads to Civil War. This is another example of Bond’s pessimistic view of society.

We then read of Fontanelle and Bodice plotting behind Lear’s back, once again showing their extreme lust for power, through their words. “We must attack before the wall is finished.”

In Act One Scene Two, the scene is set on the parade ground with Lear and his men marching to the sound of music. Warrington suggests that Lear could refuse to go to war and live quietly in the country. But through refusing Warrington’s suggestion, Bond conveys his pessimistic view on society, showing how blind pride is often chosen above peace. Society at this time was very serious about their beliefs and having some religious reassurance that their crusade was righteous would have been a very important factor.

So when the Bishop says to Lear “Our prayers go with you into war, sir”, this is a very reassuring act.

In Act One Scene Three, Bodice is shown knitting while at a war council. Not only does this seem out of character, as knitting nowadays is often considered to be something ‘good girls’ do with their mothers (biased), and Bodice is a cruel, dark women. However, during the time in which the story is set (1300), society may have perceived knitting in a completely different light. Also this complete contrast between the harmless pleasure of knitting and a meeting with such a dark purpose (war council). Perhaps shows Bonds view on the lack of respect towards the seriousness of war in society, and maybe even suggests the ‘innocence of war’ and the upper class who do not understand the pain that war brings to those who are on the front line etc.

The fact that both daughters are dissatisfied with their husbands, although they themselves chose them, shows Bond’s viewpoint on how society is never satisfied, and like a little child discarding an unwanted birthday present is an ungrateful pig. Bond’s dramatic use of words and the sisters’ drastic answers to their disappointment with their husbands, helps to show how our intolerant society often acts selfishly and violently to solve problems, when a peaceful solution could often be used (Bonds viewpoint?) By saying “It would be easier to get blood out of a stone” Bond manages to dramatise the situation as society often does.

The next section that stands out comes in Act One Scene 4, where Fontanelle is enjoying torturing Warrington. She calls out to her father. These radical actions provoke a feeling of blind anger, but also show how Fontanelle was ignored in her younger years and perhaps had to contest for attention from her father. This contest mirrors Bond’s viewpoint on society and how they battle for status and attention through their actions with greater and greater repercussions.

Bodice then says “It can’t be pearl? I think there’s an error in this pattern book”. This is a metaphor for the whole of societies’ structure. A ‘pearl’ is a better stitch but it does not fit, so therefore society is not meant to function as it does; another one of Bond’s pessimistic views on society.

The innocent image of knitting is then twisted as Bodice pushes her needles into Warrington’s ears and sings insanely as she wiggles them about. This powerful, disgusting act shows Bonds view on how society changes and like the innocent knitting needles is ever spiralling downwards, and becoming a violent writhing beast.


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